As we hit the halfway point of the 2017 NFL season, teams are starting to show their strengths and weaknesses. My colleague Lance Zierlein has already unveiled his initial look at the top 3 needs for each team.
College football is well into the second half of its schedule, and most of the nation's top-rated senior prospects are performing at the high level NFL scouts expect from them.
With that in mind, I'm marrying these two universes by identifying the perfect first-, second- or third-round fit between an NFL team and a senior prospect in a two-part series (AFC last week, NFC this week). Consideration was given to impending free agents for each pro squad.
Note: Click through the tabs above to see the prospect fits for AFC teams.
Braden Smith, OL, Auburn
Team fit:Arizona Cardinals
The Cardinals need to find their next quarterback, and it won't be a surprise if they make that position the priority in the first round next year. They could look to replace free agents on the offensive line in the next couple of rounds with a strong, athletic player like Smith.
Lowell Lotulelei, DT, Utah
Team fit:Atlanta Falcons
2017 stats: 7 tackles (1 for loss), 1 pass breakup.
With Dontari Poe's contract due to expire after the season, Atlanta might need a big body in the middle of its defensive line. Lotulelei would be a solid second-round value as a run stuffer.
Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame
Team fit:Carolina Panthers
Eventually, the Panthers will need to draft a new left tackle to keep franchise quarterback Cam Newton comfortable. McGlinchey's a solid player in the Jeff Backus mold who will play in the league for a long time.
Dante Pettis, WR/PR, Washington
Team fit:Chicago Bears
2017 stats: 45 catches for 484 yards (10.8 average), 6 TDs; 17 punt returns for 348 yards (20.5 average), 3 TDs.
Mitchell Trubisky needs more reliable receivers. With Kevin White struggling to stay on the field, Pettis would constitute good second-round value as a reliable target. He could compete with Tarik Cohen for punt return duties, as well; earlier this season, Pettis tied an NCAA record when he returned a punt for a TD for the eighth time in his career.
Maurice Hurst, DT, Michigan
Team fit:Dallas Cowboys
2017 stats: 40 tackles (10 for loss, including 2.5 sacks), 1 forced fumble.
If Dallas ends up drafting in the middle part of the first round, where it's situated as of this writing, Jerry Jones might not be able to resist taking the undersized but quick and active Hurst to help rebuild the interior of the defensive line.
Rashaan Evans, LB, Alabama
Team fit:Detroit Lions
2017 stats: 26 tackles (6 for loss, including 3 sacks), 1 pass breakup, 1 forced fumble, 1 fumble recovery.
The Lions' linebacker corps could be in for big changes in the offseason, with four veterans due to become free agents. Evans' chase ability would fit the bill for Detroit if it wants to continue the youth movement at the position one year after picking Jarrad Davis in the first round.
Josey Jewell, LB, Iowa
Team fit:Green Bay Packers
2017 stats: 81 tackles (9.5 for loss, including 2.5 sacks), 1 INT, 4 pass breakups, 1 forced fumble, 1 fumble recovery.
Ted Thompson will be looking to pick the best football player available when the Packers are selecting in the second round of the 2018 draft. Jewell would be an upgrade for the team at inside linebacker.
Billy Price, C, Ohio State
Team fit:Los Angeles Rams
If John Sullivan does not return in 2018, the team will need a solid pivot to work with up-and-coming quarterback Jared Goff. Price is tough and has quick enough feet to handle NFL nose tackles.
Will Hernandez, OG, UTEP
Team fit:Minnesota Vikings
Minnesota has a young running back worth building an offense around in Dalvin Cook (when he returns from his ACL tear). The team's interior offensive line is below average, and its best starter (Joe Berger) has said he intends for this to be his final NFL season. Hernandez would bring power and quickness to one of the guard spots.
Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma
Team fit:New Orleans Saints
2017 stats: 171 of 236 (72.5 percent) for 2,628 yards, 23 TDs, 3 INTs; 54 rushes for 190 yards (3.5 average), 4 TDs.
Drew Brees will eventually reach the end of his Hall of Fame career, although he continues to play at a high level. Mayfield is earning starter's grades from NFL scouts due to his accuracy and mobility, and seems a reasonable investment despite his physical limitations. Have you heard that story somewhere before?
Bradley Chubb, DE, North Carolina State
Team fit:New York Giants
2017 stats: 45 tackles (17 for loss, including 7.5 sacks), 2 pass breakups, 1 forced fumble.
Even with Jason Pierre-Paul and Olivier Vernon on the squad, the Giants rank near the bottom of the league in sacks and total defense. Chubb could be an immediate factor for New York because of his strength at the point of attack and relentless nature.
Keishawn Bierria, LB, Washington
Team fit:Philadelphia Eagles
2017 stats: 24 tackles (1 sack), 1 forced fumble, 1 fumble recovery.
Nigel Bradham and Najee Goode are scheduled to become free agents. Bierria's closing ability makes him a nice stopper who's worthy of a second-round pick.
Allen Lazard, WR, Iowa State
Team fit:San Francisco 49ers
2017 stats: 39 catches for 477 yards (12.2 average), 5 TDs.
The Niners will be looking to upgrade their receiving corps after trading their 2018 second-round pick for quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo earlier this week. If Lazard is available early in the third round, head coach Kyle Shanahan should snap him up as a downfield and red-zone threat.
Dallas Goedert, TE, South Dakota State
Team fit:Seattle Seahawks
2017 stats: 41 catches for 700 yards (17.1 average), 3 TDs.
If Jimmy Graham and Luke Willson, both due to become free agents after the season, aren't both back, Goedert would be a great fit. His athleticism will wow at the NFL Scouting Combine, and his reliability as a receiver will be welcomed by Russell Wilson.
Harold Landry, LB, Boston College
Team fit:Tampa Bay Buccaneers
2017 stats: 38 tackles (8.5 for loss, including 5 sacks), 2 pass breakups.
The Buccaneers have seven sacks in six games, ranking dead last in the category. Landry's speed as a pass rusher and overall athleticism should earn him top-15 grades, so if Tampa Bay can't right the ship, it should look to secure a pass rusher in the top half of the first round.
Quin Blanding, S, Virginia
Team fit:Washington Redskins
2017 stats: 83 tackles (2.5 for loss), 2 INTs, 1 pass breakup.
Safety is a major need for Washington. Blanding's size and sure tackling are what NFL coaches appreciate in their last line of defense.